AG Jennings leads letter in support of credit card companies’ new merchant code for firearm sales

Gun Sales On The Rise

DELAWARE – Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced on Monday that Delaware, along with New Jersey and the District of Columbia, is leading a coalition of attorneys general from across the country in support of the world’s largest credit card companies’ adoption of a new merchant category code for the sale of firearms and ammunition.

We’re told the Switzerland-based International Organization for Standardization approved the creation of a new merchant code that will allow financial institutions to better detect and report suspicious activity related to purchasing firearms and ammunition at standalone gun retail stores. This code will have no bearing on an individual’s ability to lawfully purchase firearms and is narrowly tailored so that it applies only to purchases made at independently owned gun retail shops.

The decision by the credit card companies is viewed by gun-safety advocates as an important action that will help law enforcement investigate gun crimes, prevent mass shootings, and combat illegal weapons trafficking.

In a letter addressed to the chief executives of Visa, American Express, and Mastercard, Attorney General Jennings and 10 other attorneys general welcome the companies’ decision to adopt the new merchant code as an important new public safety tool.

Monday’s letter notes that there have been hundreds of mass shootings in 2022 alone and points to such recent examples as the supermarket mass shooting in Buffalo and the Uvalde elementary school massacre as evidence that gun violence is a national crisis.

The letter notes that the code will enable financial institutions to track multiple sales to persons who seek to avoid the threshold for reporting gun purchases by making firearms purchases at several different retail outlets. Another key advantage is that the code will enable financial institutions and law enforcement to analyze transaction patterns associated with mass shootings by persons who have rapidly acquired weapons and large caches of ammunition. The letter also states that the new code will be a valuable adjunct to “red flag” laws that many states have enacted to curb domestic terrorism.

The bulk of the letter is devoted to applauding the new merchant code and commending the credit card industry’s readiness to “step up and do its part”, the letter also makes a point of dismissing as “fear mongering” arguments advanced by the gun industry and its supporters that the new code is an incursion on Second Amendment rights. The code does not prohibit the lawful sale of firearms or impose new regulations on them; it is noted to be “merely an administrative tool to gather data that would enhance law enforcement’s ability to do its job.”

The letter also notes that the new merchant code will not be used to build a database of firearms owners.

Monday’s letter of support for the new firearms sale merchant code is led by the Attorneys General of New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Delaware, and is signed by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Oregon.

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